The Group of 77 at Fifty

When it was established on 15 June 1964, the signing nations of the well-known “Joint Declaration of Seventy-Seven Countries” formed the largest intergovernmental organization of developing countries in the United Nations to articulate and promote their collective interests and common development agenda.

Since the First Ministerial meeting of the Group of 77 (G-77) held in Algeria in October 1967, and the adoption of the “Charter of Algiers”, the Group of 77 laid down the institutional mechanisms and structures that have contributed to shaping the international development agenda and changing the landscape of the global South for the past five decades.

Over the years, the Group has gained an increasing role in the determination and conduct of international relations through global negotiations on major North-South and development issues. The Group has a presence worldwide at UN centers in New York, Geneva, Nairobi, Paris, Rome, Vienna, and Washington D.C., and is actively involved in ongoing negotiations on a wide range of global issues including climate change, poverty eradication, migration, trade, and the law of the sea.

Today, the G-77 remains the only viable and operational mechanism in multilateral economic diplomacy within the UN system. The growing membership is proof of its enduring strength. From 77 founding member states in 1964 to 133 and counting in 2014, it is the largest intergovernmental organization of the global South dealing with the Development Agenda.

The Group was created with the objective to collectively boost the role and influence of developing countries on the global stage when it became clear that political independence, to be meaningful, required changes in the economic relations between North and South. Thus, political independence needed to be accompanied by economic diplomacy with the ultimate objective of the reform of the international economic order.

Today, the G-77 represents the greatest coalition of humanity and remains a vital negotiating instrument in economic multilateral diplomacy, and for ensuring international peace and justice through international cooperation for development within the framework of the United Nations. This has been the thrust of the joint expression of South-South solidarity since the Group’s creation, and its collective voice has spread to every institution and international organization representing the hopes and aspirations of the majority of humanity.

The integral role played by the G-77 in economic diplomacy and projecting the development interests of the global South is a testimony to its continued relevance in the global development dialogue. The Group has, through its compact Executive Secretariat limited resources, managed to work successfully with its development partners to analyze issues and propose alternative solutions to development challenges.

For 50 years the G-77 contributed to the formulation and adoption of numerous UN resolutions, programmes, and plans of action, most of which address the core issues of development. Its role in generating global consensus on the issues of development has been widely acknowledged by world leaders, diplomats, parliamentarians, academia, researchers, media and civil society.

It is a tribute to the historical validity of the conception, purposes, and endeavours of the Group, which have withstood the test of time. The essential rationale for the Group was, and remains, to strive for a wider participation of developing countries in global economic decision-making and for inserting a development dimension in international institutions and policies within the framework of the United Nations system.

The Group presently consists of 133 countries, comprising over 80 per cent of the world’s population and approximately two-thirds of the United Nations membership. The Group is the second largest international organization in the world after the UN and many countries, from emerging developing economies to least developed countries and small island developing states have chaired the Group, ranging in regions from Africa, Asia-Pacific to Latin America and the Caribbean.

2014 marks a milestone in the life of the Group with the celebration of the fiftieth year of its establishment, a period during which it has nearly doubled in membership and multiplied its south-south cooperation achievements while continuing to operate as a coalition of nations in promoting North-South dialogue for development. It is remarkable that with such a diverse membership and without a formal constitution it has managed to endure the world’s political and economic turbulences for 50 years and remain true to its original mission in promoting the United Nations development agenda.

The G-77 has devoted five decades working to achieve development. It adheres to the principle that nations, big and small, deserve an equal voice in world affairs. Today the Group remains linked by common geography and shared history of struggle for liberation, freedom and South-South solidarity.

In its 50 years, the Group of 77 has solidified the global South as a coalition of nations, aspiring for a global partnership for peace and development. Today, the Group of 77 is recognized for its work to promote international cooperation for development towards a prosperous and peaceful world. The commitment and dedication of the Group in selflessly shaping world affairs has benefited billions of lives worldwide, and such recognition of its significant contribution during the Group’s fiftieth anniversary is most appropriate.